Tag Archives: Progress for Benicia PAC

Valero PAC lays out $10,000 for big social media buy, total now at $73K

By Roger Straw, November 1, 2022

Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent

Late today, Benicia City Clerk Lisa Wolfe posted two more campaign finance reports submitted by the Valero PAC.  These reports shed light on the expenditure of an additional $18,698.61 to elect their preferred candidates for Benicia City Council.

$10,000 of this amount is for a massive social media campaign. The PAC has already set up a Facebook page.

The remaining amount, approximately $8,700, is for another misleading mailer.

With this additional outlay, the PAC has spent a total of $73,095.83 just in the last week of October.

Disclosed in these two reports are the actual images – 8 new full color ads, once again including subtly deceptive positioning of photos of Benicia’s Mayor and Vice-Mayor, suggesting that they support Valero’s chosen candidates.  Mayor Young and Vice-Mayor Campbell have not supported Valero’s candidates.  Both have endorsed Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott.

The ads all portray Valero’s chosen two as significant players in a City Council that gets things done.  “Christina Strawbridge, Lionel Largaespada, and City Councilmembers led Benicia through COVID-19.” “Christina Strawbridge, Lionel Largaespada, and City Councilmembers  Support our first responders.”

Valero seems to have learned a lesson in 2020: wait to spend your fortune in the last few weeks, and don’t bash your opposition directly – only by hint and suggestion.

The PAC has now spent over $73,000, twice what any legitimate human resident candidate’s campaign can spend. And that leaves about $160,000 in their war chest. Who knows how much they will pay out in the final week before the November 8 election?

>> And that’s a question with no forthcoming answer. The PAC will not be required to file another report until after the election, covering the period 10/31/22 – 11/8/22. This form will be due in the Benicia City Clerk’s office on 11/11/22.

The following links go to the City of Benicia website, displaying the PAC’s 2 latest reports, including images of their ads:

Note that others in Benicia are keeping an eye on Valero’s meddling in our elections – check out Benicians For Clean Elections at https://www.beniciansforcleanelections.org/

See also my page of support for candidate Kari Birdseye here on the BenIndy.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if/when we learn more.

Roger Straw
The Benicia Independent

Previously on the BenIndy…

Benicia to Protest Valero Election Meddling This Wednesday 5pm

By email, October 31, 2022

Protest Rally against Valero’s Pollution of Benicia’s Elections!

What: Rally in protest of Valero’s meddling in local elections (please bring a sign)
Where:  Near SW corner of 1st Street and Military Way, Benicia, below park gazebo
When: Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 5 pm

Benicians have had enough of the huge, Texas-based Valero Energy Corporation meddling in our small city’s elections.

A protest is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 5pm, below the park gazebo near the southwest corner of 1st Street and Military Way in Benicia.

This is the third election cycle in which Valero has dedicated up to $200,000, in a city of only 28,000, to elect its preferred city council and mayoral candidates. It has sent misleading and untruthful ads to residents, and used scare tactics on social media.

This years’ tactics involve Valero’s funded PAC sending misleading mailers which can confuse Benicians about this year’s city council election. One deceptive mailer places photos of Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell next to those of Valero’s chosen candidates, Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge, clearly implying support from the two officials. In fact, Young and Campbell have both endorsed Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott for city council, not the Valero-backed candidates.

Mayor Young has decried Valero’s mailer.

Another Valero PAC mailer stresses public safety, despite the company’s actions threatening harm to our city. For 15 years, its Benicia-based refinery secretly released massive levels of toxins into the city’s air; we only learned of this in 2022. From 2012 through 2016, it unsuccessfully fought to bring potential deadly “oil bomb” trains – the kind that exploded and killed 47 people in one Quebec town – through Benicia, which one of their candidates, Lionel Largaesapda supported.

In 2018 and 2020, Valero-funded PACs launched smear campaigns against candidates they opposed. They employed fear tactics, photo manipulation, untruths, and push polls, and, like this year, buried Valero’s funding in the small print of its publications.

Very recently, it changed the PAC’s name, perhaps to mislead Benicians into thinking its participation had ended.

This all raises many questions: What does Valero want from the candidates it supports? Why dedicate $600,000 to campaign spending in just four years here? Why be so misleading?

Concerned Citizens of Benicia

Recently on the BenIndy…


Benicia to Protest Valero Election Meddling This Wednesday 5pm

From an email, October 31, 2022

Join concerned citizens
for a protest of Valero’s deceptive meddling in our City Council election!

Wednesday, November 2nd at 5:00pm
orner of First St. & Military St.,
below the gazebo

Recently on the BenIndy…


Valero is spending big money to promote their preferred candidates ….. Again.

By Kari Birdseye, October 28, 2022

Mailers with misinformation

Greetings Benicians,

We were really hoping for a clean election this year. However, two weeks before election day, the glossy mailers started arriving in every mailbox (except mine) in Benicia.

First, they paid for the “First Responders” to weigh in on their favored candidate, with the subtle indication that not all of the candidates support our brothers and sisters in public safety. WRONG.

No one is trying to defund any departments in Benicia, especially those who protect us. I come from a family of firefighter folks and grew up with a police and fire scanner in my house, so just don’t.

Even worse was the mailer Benicians received today, depicting Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge next to pictures of Mayor Young and Vice Mayor Campbell, both of whom have endorsed me and Terry Scott.

This piece is so deceiving that I’m hoping the City of Benicia will utilize the Fair Election ordinances we have on the books and, at the very least, issue a violation.

There have been a number of misinformation pieces sent this election cycle. Benicians who aren’t politically active may easily believe the misinformation, fueled by big oil money. A campaign that is energized by volunteers and less than $30,000 can’t compete. Knowing that makes me want to work even harder to get out the vote and show why I deserve the support of the majority of our local voters.

Moving Forward…

We continue to get the vote out, which this week included an online forum, held by the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) Solano Napa Chapter, in collaboration with Vallejo Alumnae Chapter and Solano Valley Alumnae Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. The 2022 Solano Countywide Virtual Candidates Forum can be viewed here and if you want to fast forward to our talk, go to 1:45:15. I was one of only two of the five candidates who showed up.

Thanks for your support!

I will continue to connect with Benicians and focus on the solutions we can create together. If you want to help me hit the maximum donations allowed under Benicia’s local ordinances, please visit this page and your support in other ways is always appreciated here.

In Service,


[BenIndy Editor: see more letters on Valero’s sham endorsement on Kari’s website at Valero’s misleading mailers.  – RS]